Life Enrichment Center provides a cost-effective and valuable program whose benefit and financial impact on the community reaches far beyond the direct service population. The Center’s program serves a critical need in Hillsborough County to help well older adults remain physically active and mentally alert, thereby maintaining good health and to remain independent in late life. Our society is changing dramatically as the baby boom generation ages. This year, one in four people in the US is over 65. According to the Hillsborough County Community Cultural Plan, "Hillsborough County is a destination for the "baby boomer" generation and must prepare for th[is} influx...." Preparing for the influx includes providing opportunities in the arts, which provides a rich cultural experience, attractive to newcomers. As our society continues to age and live longer, organizations like ours are becoming even more important.
Research indicates that baby boomers are going to be looking for activities that challenge and stimulate them and enable them to explore creative options and we strive to serve as a model of a successful community-based organization for Florida and the nation. The importance and beneficial attributes of the arts also have profound implications in medicine as well. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn. concluded that adults took part in social and art activities throughout midlife and late life were 73 percent less likely to experience mild dementia; and that the risk of memory loss and cognitive thinking decline was reduced. "What is surprising from our study is that you have to begin these activities in midlife and continue through old age," wrote Roberts.
The Life Enrichment Center has long been recognized as a model of successful cultural arts program for older adults, due to our high quality creative personnel. Our diverse art teachers bring a wealth of knowledge, skills and talent to the students in their classes and they encourage, support and guide our art students on their journey of creative expression. Classes offered at the Life Enrichment Center include a wide variety of art classes - oil and acrylics, watercolor, drawing, pastels, Sumi-e Asian brush painting, modern dance, life writing and creative writing, wellness classes, including low impact exercise, and tai chi. We offer an average of 135 classes each month.
Life Enrichment Center has received many awards, including the Spirit of Humanity Award from the DeBartolo Family Foundation, the prestigious Florence R. Goldman Award presented by the Florida Association of Senior Centers, the Greater Brandon Arts Council’s Brush Strokes Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel Foundation for Global Understanding Healthy Hero Award. Our cultural arts program has received national and international recognition for our work in this arena and our artwork was recently displayed at the 2015 White House Conference of Aging here in Tampa. In addition, the Center received national recognition as one of only 20 organizations in six cities across the United States to be profiled in Culture Connects All: Rethinking Audiences in Times of Demographic Change, a major report by Partners for Livable Communities, funded by the MetLife Foundation and was subsequently presented with a Certificate of Commendation by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. In December 2012, the Center published the second expanded edition of Pages of My Life anthology, a collection of stories written by members of our life-writing classes. This book is for sale to the public and is now being used as an assigned text at the University of South Florida’s School of Aging Studies.